Allow women into Haji Ali dargah: Rights group

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Mumbai, April 20 (IANS) The Bhumata Ranragini Brigade on Wednesday said it will launch an agitation so that women entry to the famed Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai.

‘Haji Ali For All’ forum was launched by Brigade president Trupti Desai along with several activists, NGOs and social groups to fight for women’s entry to the shrine — nearly six centuries old and nestling amid the rocks in the Arabian Sea off the Worli shoreline.

In a decision with far-reaching ramifications, the trust managing the Shani Shingnapur temple in Ahmednagar in Maharashtra said on April 8 that women will also be allowed to enter and pray at the open-to-sky platform.

The decision was announced a week after the Bombay High Court ruled that there was no law to prevent women from entering any place of worship.

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“We shall launch the agitation at the Haji Ali shrine on April 28. However, we are ready to discuss the issue with its trustees,” Desai told the media.

Desai was in the forefront in pressing the demand for women’s entry to the temple dedicated to Lord Shanidev.

She said the proposed agitation was not against any religion but only to ensure that there was no gender discrimination at any place of worship.

She called upon all Mulsim women in the country to contact her organisation to highlight alleged gender discrimination at other dargah or shrine in India and promised to take up their cause.

“We are accused of harbouring political motives… But we are living in the 21st century. It is about time to change in this scientific era. A handful of individuals cannot stop us,” Desai said.

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She said several Muslim women and other groups were fighting for equality vis-a-vis the Haji Ali dargah for years and had even moved courts seeking relief.

These groups want women to be allowed to go to the tomb of Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari and offer ‘chadar’ and prayers in the sanctum sanctorum, she said.

The Haji Ali Dargah Trust has justified the prevailing custom on the ground that allowing women up to the tomb of the Pir would be ‘anti-Islam’.



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